If there is one thing I have learned from the recession of the late 1970’s, the stock market crash of 1987, the dot com disaster of 2000, the bombing of the World Trade Centers in 2001, The Great Recession of 2008 and The Great Soon-To-Be-Pandemic-Depression of 2020, is that there have been more bad times in my life than good times. Like duh? YOU haven’t figured that out yet?
Let’s forget about the fact that I’ve lived through some harrowing financial occurrences. Let’s just take The Great Recession of 2008, barely twelve years ago. Almost everyone went through some semblance of a bad financial upheaval. I find it very difficult to believe that when the good times finally rolled in around 2016, people didn’t take a percentage of their new-found wealth and sock some money away for another calamity (because as we all know there’s always a new calamity right around the corner?)
I also find it very difficult to believe that barely two weeks after this current pandemic hit, there were hundreds and hundreds of people, all lined up in their SUVs (while talking on their $1,000 cell phones) waiting for food handouts? Why didn’t these people have at least some semblance of a savings account to pay for their food? Their rent/mortgage? Their utilities? What were they thinking during these past industrious, illustrious four fantastic, profitable years? Salaries were up. Minimum wage laws were being passed. The stock market was roaring. People were making money hand over fist.
Could it have been possible that no one, and I do mean NO ONE learned anything from the financial horrors of 2008? What was true back in 2008 is still true to this day: almost no one has $400 cash to their name to get them out of a calamity (click here)! 78% of people are still living paycheck to paycheck despite all the warnings and their life experiences (click here).
There are no excuses. Even if you had put away a measly $5 per week back in 2016, you would have been able to save $1040 over the last four years. Financial Guru, Dave Ramsey says all of us should have at least a thousand dollars put away for a calamity.
Isn’t any one out there sick and tired and tired and sick of all these constant, constant upheavals to your financial bottom lines? Isn’t anyone sick of it as much as I am? When are YOU going to do something about it? There’s no reason in the world why you have to live this way. If you live your life as if every single day is a crisis then when a crisis really hits, you’ll be prepared AND you won’t hardly even notice any shock to your bottom line!
I finally learned my lesson in 2000, right after the Dot Com disaster. Talk about a wake up call! I realized at that time that my entire life and lifestyle were rented. I was deep in debt and sick and tired of the whole thing. These problems were caused by no fault of my own. Just the way the pandemic is hitting people now. Business owners are losing through no fault of their own. Employees are without jobs through no fault of their own. How do you take control of a bad situation and make it any good? My only salvation was my home. Not a bank account. Not money. My home was my ticket out. It was located in a rich neighborhood and as we all know, the rich ALWAYS has money. I put my home of 16 years up for sale and it sold in 5 hours. Yup. You read that right: five hours. Thankfully, hubs and I never borrowed out the equity so we had enough cash reserves built up so that we could start our lives over again, someplace new and someplace cheaper….without any debt.
Not having any debt and living as close to the bone (as if you’re in a constant crisis) has been our saving grace ever since. Our friends used to laugh at us when we built our new home for cash and without a mortgage. While we suffered our friends taunted us and told us to stop our silliness, take out a mortgage and live a little. In 2008, these same friends lost their own homes. Who’s laughing now?
I was also able to buy two newish cars for cash and had enough equity left over to put the remaining cash into CD accounts. I don’t invest substantially in Wall Street. I’ve seen too many people destroyed by Wall Street over the years to ever trust it. Today is no exception. I’ve seen people who had a million dollars invested, to suddenly lose over $250,000 (and counting). That’s a tough loss to accept when you are retired.
I have noticed that each time a financial calamity hits, hubs and I find ourselves poorer and poorer. Over the years, our frugal skills have successfully kept us in some semblance of a lifestyle. Each year we learn to live on less but as my husband reminds me “at least we’re living“. The pandemic has disrupted our retirement plans (what else is new?). Hubby had to take his Social Security now rather than wait another few years, which would have resulted in a larger monthly benefit. Nonetheless, now burdened with a smaller benefit check, he and I have had to learn, yet once again, how to successfully live on less. And less. And less.
We’re going from two cars down to one. We’re trading in both our cars for one newish vehicle (that must be able to tow our RV yet look ‘stylish’ enough on our plain days). With one cell phone paid for, we’re going down to that one cell phone. We’ve eliminated all paid-for TV services and installed an antenna. We have Amazon Prime and adhere to their offerings and nothing else. We put in a vegetable garden and will can our tomato harvest this fall into hopefully 24 jars of marinara sauce! We’ve eliminated all RV traveling except winter in Florida. That part is non-negotiable (already sent in our returnable deposit for 2021).
95% of our money is in safe, FDIC accounts. The remaining 5% was “invested” in the S&P500, which as soon as it returns to as close as to what we started out with, we will be quickly withdrawing said funds and putting it all back into FDIC accounts. I don’t care about interest rates and keeping up with inflation. Frugality helps us keep up with inflation! Do less. Spend less. And live more.
Since I always stockpiled foods and supplies (i.e toilet paper) this pandemic didn’t find us short on anything. Anything else we needed, we had the cash to buy it. Sometimes at prices so gauged on Amazon (like for yeast or dried beans) it would have made your head spin. No matter. We have the cash to buy whatever it is we need. It’s called ‘a savings account’.
Since we have no debt, no car loans, no student loans, no personal loans, no mortgage or equity lines of credit (note: we do have a small loan on our RV but we have no qualms turning it in if we can’t make the payments. It’s a non-essential item) It only costs us $569 a month to live in our home. This includes taxes, insurance, maintenance, heat and electricity. Where can anyone go and live for just $569 a month? That is why we stay here. For as long as we want.
If something should happen to our Social Security benefits or if hubby’s pension is eliminated, we have enough cash reserves to see us till we are 94 years old. That’s fine with me! We have NO intention of ever going in to a nursing home or assisted living arrangement. Haven’t you heard? They’re unsafe now for anyone over the age of 65. Call it an instant death trap. I want to live out my life just like my dad did: in his own home, with a paid-for live in assistant who attended to his needs. My dad’s living arrangements were overseen by my sister to make certain everything was done properly. Trust no one other than yourself!
Which gets us back to America. We have become a land of non-believers. We trust and believe in nothing anymore. We live in the land of hate. So much so, that many people do not even believe we are in the middle of a pandemic crisis. Why then would people so callously toss aside their own life safety and the life safety of others by callously breaking the social distancing laws, the wearing of mask coverings, hand washing and engage in such mind-bending, un-safe behavior such as this:
Personally, I think we are all doomed unless there is a vaccine. Eventually, without a vaccine, most of us will become sick and die. Especially for those over the age of 65 and most vulnerable. The young may recover but there is no guarantee they will not become infected yet once again once their immunity runs out. Rather than change with our brave new world, most people want things to be the way that they used to be. They don’t realize or can not accept that life as we knew it isn’t coming back anytime soon. We can’t congregate in large numbers for the time being. We can no longer shop, eat in our restaurants, have large weddings, large parties, travel safely in airplanes, take vacations like we used to.
Get over it!
Even myself, when I think this pandemic is over rated, I have to remind myself that my own dear brother died from the coronavirus. And he was a retired doctor who took the necessary precautions! He traveled to NYC for a specialist doctors visit and somehow caught the contagion. He died a very painful, agonizing death within the month! Never to see his wife, his children, his grandchildren ever again. No funeral. No memorial. His body was cremated. We never saw him again!
If you have about an hour, I would suggest you watch this interview between PBS Frontline and the famous pollster Frank Luntz, as to how America has come to such a hateful and un-trusting divide. The interview was conducted on January 13, 2020, right before the pandemic was known to just about everybody. At the end of the interview, Luntz breaks down and cries when asked how he saw the future of America. Luntz knows. Luntz knew. We’re all going to be destroyed by our own hatred of each other. There is no kindness in America anymore. No kind word. No respect. No trust.
This pandemic will be the straw that broke the camels back.
Until then, hubby and I are content to shelter in place. We very rarely leave our property. We take the necessary precautions. We reside inside the internet as our sole means of social support. Realistically, it’s only a matter of time before our whole world collapses right in front of our eyes.
Until then, live your life as if each day is a crisis. It’s the only way you’re going to survive.